Spring is here! The vernal equinox, March 19th , marked this year’s first day of spring, and we enjoy the early stages of spring growth. Here are examples:
|The Australian Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandorana) produces a curtain of cream-colored blossoms.||The Chinese Peony (Paeonia lactiflora): a common species with a great range of cultivars.|
The arrival of the spring season presents Natures gifts, delights our senses, and inspires our gardening urges. This has always been a welcome time of the year.
Our usual seasonal gardening activities include garden societies’ regular meetings and annual shows and sales. The early spring weeks have been filled with opportunities to share gardening ideas, techniques and plants with friends in the local community, to examine exemplary plants at regional showcases, and even to go out of town to attend national shows.
This year is different because the coronavirus threat requires everyone to avoid public contacts.
All garden-related events in the Monterey Bay area have been cancelled or are on the verge of being cancelled. Before you travel to an event of interest, verify that it is still happening!
One distant example was the 2020 Clivia Show & Sale, organized by The North American Clivia Society at the Huntington Botanical Gardens, and scheduled for last weekend. This rare event in a great location was worth considering for a major weekend trip, but alas it was cancelled, as were countless other garden events throughout California (and likely the rest of the country).
Gardeners and the gardening community are feeling multiple impacts of these cancellations. Many other elements of America and the world are being affected as well, of course, but let’s focus for the moment on gardening. The impacts include loss of interaction between like-minded members of the community, interruption in the continuity of non-profit garden societies, and loss of revenues that sustain those societies.
This situation undermines gardening’s social dimension. The good news is that gardeners have ways to stay busy and productive even while sheltering in place. Here are three ideas to consider.
The first priority is to care for your garden. Plants continue to grow during these difficult times, and to benefit from regular care by gardeners. Reserve a couple hours each rain-free day to keep your plants irrigated, pruned and weeded, and enjoy their contributions to your environment. This includes mild exercise, which keeps us healthy.
Another priority is to advance your gardening knowledge and skills. Assuming you have access to the Internet, search for information about plants you have—or would like to have—in your garden. A basic search by plant name will yield general descriptions. Searching for “how to cultivate [plant name]” will display helpful advice. Try this method on YouTube.com for video demonstrations by both amateurs and professionals.
With practice, the Internet can support your advanced education in gardening and provide a respite from binging on entertainment resources.
The third way to enrich the days of maximum social distance involves additional uses of the Internet: the social media, particularly e-mails with your gardening friends, garden-related blogs that support limited dialogs, Twitter messaging, and Facebook pages.
I have begun posting frequent “garden clips” on my long-time dormant Facebook page, with an emphasis on topics that are current to the Monterey Bay area. You are welcome to sample these clips and to comment. Browse to facebook.com/thomas.karwin.
Future columns will include ideas in support of these three constructive ways for gardeners to shelter in place.
Meanwhile, for up-to-date health information, browse to www.cdc.gov and click on “Coronavirus Disease 2019”
Take good care of yourself during these difficult times.
Karwin is past president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, Monterey
Bay Area Cactus & Succulent Society, and Monterey Bay Iris Society, and a
Lifetime UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). Visit ongardening.com for previous columns.
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